Denver7 reporter Russell Haythorn tells us how a Longmont Children's Home is changing the lives of many -- and will continue to do so, with a new expansion.
A pick-up basketball game is a far cry from the dangerous road to ruin Joy Lukkason was on just a year-and-a-half ago.
"We couldn't afford food," said Lukkason. "And we had to sell drugs to buy alcohol, so that we could have breakfast."
That was rock bottom. Fortunately for her, she hit it like a springboard.
"It's just a huge difference," she said. "And I'm so grateful for it."
This 17-year-old's recovery is due in large part -- if not entirely -- to Mountain States Children's Home.
"These kids need structure," said Paul McGinty, a house parent at Mountain States. "Because they've been lacking that in their lives, you know."
On a hilltop outside Longmont, Mountain States Children's Home is providing safety, security and stability to kids who never knew it.
"Abuse, neglect, abandonment," said Randy Schow, executive director of Mountain States Children's Home. "They're victims of circumstances that they may not have anything to do with."
Here at Mountain States -- those children are showered in love. A shocking departure from the life many once lived.
"They start coming out of their shells and learn to trust us," said house parent, Terri McGinty.
The children live in cottages with house parents like the McGinty's, people who dedicate their lives to keeping kids from falling through the cracks.
"As much as kids don't like us telling them what they can and can't do, that structure that's there -- they really do want it," said Terri McGinty.
Kids, mostly teens, share chores, play games and go to school five days a week.
"We need to get them caught up within a short period of time to be mainstreamed back into public schools," said Schow.
The on-ground school's success rate is well-documented. A 12-year study shows the average student improvement is 3.7 grade levels in just one year.
"Before that, they felt like they were stupid, they were dumb, 'we can't do that,' and that's not true at all," Schow said.
The Children's Home is now expanding on the 150-acre campus. They're building what will be the fifth cottage on campus.
"They come up and give you hugs. They tell you how much they appreciate the help," said Schow.
For Lukkason, it's been a life-changer.
"And one day -- I had my Dad drive down and I got baptized with him and he said it was one of the happiest days of his life," Lukkason said. "It's been really good."
Mountain States Children's Home operates entirely off donations. It gets nearly 80 percent of its support from individuals and another 11 percent from churches.
It serves kids primarily from the Front Range, but receives applications and references from all across the country.
For more information on the programs offered or how you can support Mountains States Children's Home, you can visit its web site at www.msch.org or call them at (303) 776-6841.
Sign up for Denver7 email alerts to stay informed about breaking news and daily headlines.
Or, keep up-to-date on the latest news and weather with the Denver7 apps for iPhone/iPads, Android and Kindle.
Or, keep up-to-date by following Denver7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.